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OJC Press Release ID: 3024

Friday, April 17, 2020

OJC Offers Students Grade Options in the Wake of COVID-19


Otero Junior College has announced adjustments to several academic policies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which took students off campus to finish out their spring semester through remote-access instruction.

Leading the list of changes is a student’s ability to withdraw from a class through May 1 and earn a W (withdraw) in that class, versus a letter grade. The withdrawal date would normally have fallen on April 3.

Dr. Calandra Lockhart, vice president of Academic and Student Affairs, explained that this extension will give students more time to catch up in their courses, all the while knowing that if life does not allow them to do so, they can withdraw from the course without financial aid penalties.

“In a time of uncertainty, everyone wants to have control of some aspects of their lives,” said Lockhart. “Our goal with these academic policy changes is to give our students more time to make decisions concerning their current courses and help them be in a good position going forward with their academic journey.”

A second academic policy change allows students several options on what type of grade they will receive in a class. The OJC administration is aware that some students do not have the personal resources to complete or pass a course that is being taught in a remote-access format. In addition, the stay-at-home order has created hardships for many students who are now not able to work or do not have childcare.

“We have been working with the Colorado Community College System to establish a system-wide protocol that will allow students additional options for how their grade is posted,” said Lockhart. “We are communicating these options to our students now, while they still have time to make some informed choices.”

Students who are passing and doing well in their classes are encouraged to complete the course and earn their passing letter grade. If a students was doing well until COVID-19 started, but then began to struggle, the college has decreased the required successful completion of coursework to 60 percent. This will allow students the ability to take the passing grade they were earning at the 60 percent completion mark of the class. The student does not have to pay for the course again.

Students who are struggling with a class have some additional options for Spring Semester 2020 term only.

Students can take an ‘I’ (incomplete) or they can take a ‘W’ (withdraw) up to May 1. If a student takes either an ‘I’ or ‘W’ in a class, these grades will not be included in the courses attempted and completed calculations for Financial Aid Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). This will be a temporary one-time emergency policy to assist students in returning to their studies.

“Students who have the most to gain by choosing these options are those who have been successful in previous terms or if this is their first term of attendance and their term GPA is a 0.0,” said Lockhart.

Lockhart explained the ‘W’ and the ‘I’ grades will become part of a student’s official transcript; however, the student will not be immediately placed in an ineligible status for not meeting this single rule in the Financial Aid SAP process. These students will not have to file an appeal.

The student will still be evaluated using the cumulative completion rate and the GPA standards. These students will have to file an appeal with their financial aid office if they do not meet those standards.

Another option for students who do not want to take a letter grade, and do not want to withdraw or take an incomplete, is to take an ‘S’ (satisfied) or ‘U’ (unsatisfied). An ‘S’ grade is equivalent to a ‘C’ letter grade when transferring to another college.

Student who choose to stay in a class and earn a grade of ‘F’ or ‘U’ will not be excluded from Financial Aid SAP. When a student has an ‘F’ or ‘U’ grade, it means that the student has completed the course. The student has ‘earned’ the grade either through their performance or failure to attend.

“For students who are not doing well in a class, taking an ‘F’ or ‘U’ is the last option we would recommend,” said Lockhart. “All of the colleges across the state have worked very hard to provide options for students to prevent them from receiving grades that impact their GPA. We are in the process now of communicating those options to students, hoping they will make the best choice for their situation,” said Lockhart.

Press Release Photo
Otero Junior College has announced adjustments to several academic policies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which took students off campus to finish out their spring semester through remote-access instruction.